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Abstract Detail

Botanical History

Sundberg, Marshall [1].

Bartram’s Garden: a legacy of colonial American botany.

Two hundred eighty-nine years ago John Bartram purchased a 100+ acre farm in Kissington Township on the west bank of the Schuylkill River about 4 miles southwest of Philadelphia. Within three years, 1731, his kitchen garden and orchard were sharing space with a growing number of regional plants Bartram collected to the flora of the mid-Atlantic colonies and which was called Bartram’s Garden. Two years later he began a correspondence and business practice with European aristocrats that encouraged and supported his further collecting from Northern New York south to Florida, and his horticultural skill to transplant even exotic specimens back to his garden. By 1865 Bartram was “Botanist to His Majesty” and well known, and frequently visited, by both American and European botanists. By the end of the revolution, Bartram’s Garden, now operated by two of his sons, was essentially the unofficial National Botanical Garden. Indeed, it may have had a part in the “Connecticut Compromise” during the Constitutional Convention. The commercial garden and nursery, run by a Bartram daughter and her husband in the decades following the war of 1812, would be recognized as such today. Decimated by the financial panic of 1837, it was sold off in pieces until only essentially the current garden remained as part of the estate of a wealthy Philadelphia industrialist. Following his death, the garden essentially “went natural” until purchased by the city as a park in 1893. Management was given to the newly formed John Bartram Association. The 1926 Philadelphia Sesquicentennial Exhibition when the city took it over as part of the Fairmont Park System. Similarly, the 1976 Bicentennial of the country stimulated renewed interest and National Historic Landmark and Historic Place designations. The John Bartram Association continues management and now focuses on archeological and historic work to support restoration. Significant were a second restoration of the home and repurchase of 17 adjacent acres along the river that have been restored to meadow. Only 2 trees are known to survive from their original planting by John’s son, William. One, the oldest Ginkgo in the United States and the other a yellowwood, Cladrastis kentukea. Franklinia alatamaha, discovered and named by John Bartram and extinct in the wild, survives, as do all others in the world, as one of many offspring of the original planted in the garden by Bartram.

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1 - Emporia State University, Biology Department, 1 Kellogg Circle, Emporia, KS, 66044, USA

John Bartram
Botanical Garden
Peter Collinson
Benjamin Franklin.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: HIST1, Botanical History
Location: Tucson E/Starr Pass
Date: Tuesday, July 30th, 2019
Time: 3:00 PM
Number: HIST1003
Abstract ID:320
Candidate for Awards:None

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